RIDGEFIELD PARK — Josanne Archibald isn’t sure what her family would have done without Harboring Hearts.
Her son Mason, born June 5, needed a heart transplant. She and her husband Damion would need to miss work to be at the hospital almost every day until a donor was identified.
Harboring Hearts, a New York-based non-profit, offered the Ridgefield Park family three months of rent.
“We probably would have had to borrow money from friends and family,” Archibald said. “We’re just so blessed to have them.”
Archibald went through a normal pregnancy before Mason was born. Doctors at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center kept him for observation because he was breathing quickly.
When his breathing failed to improve, a nurse ordered X-rays, revealing an enlarged heart. Mason was transferred to Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, where he was diagnosed with left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy.
Doctors first tried medication to help his heart contract, but it didn’t work. At only a week old, a heart transplant was the only remaining option Josanne, a pharmacy technician, and Damion, who works in sales, would need to be at the hospital nearly every day while awaiting a donor.
They were connected to Harboring Hearts through a hospital social worker. The non-profit works with patients awaiting heart transplants or critical heart surgery whose families are at or below the median income level.
Aside from financial assistance, Harboring Hearts also holds events with food and live music at its partner hospitals, Mt. Sinai, New York Presbyterian and Montefiore Medical Center, to ease the burden on patients and families, Missy Rahman, deputy director of the non-profit, said.
Michelle Javian and Yuki Kotani founded Harboring Hearts in 2009 after their fathers received heart transplants. The non-profit assisted 72 families in 2014, and has assisted more than 80 this year, Rahman said.
Archibald was told Mason could remain on the transplant list for six months to a year. She didn’t have to wait that long.
Mason received a heart transplant on July 23 and returned home to Ridgefield Park. However, he’s since returned, after the amount of a medicine used to coax his body to accept his new heart reached dangerous levels.
But the worst is over, Archibald said. Mason should return home as soon as his levels return to normal. They wouldn’t have been able to do it without Harboring Hearts, Archibald said.
“We’re grateful for them,” she said. “They’re a great organization.”
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